Autonomous vehicles still feel like something from the future, don’t they, when we discuss them? But if you follow automotive news, you’ll know that severe testing is already underway in the US and will shortly begin in Europe.
North America has been a leader in this regard, with several states permitting the first official trials of autonomous vehicles on public roads, yielding varying but highly encouraging outcomes. As mentioned, things move more slowly on this side of the water.
The United Kingdom is the nation that leads the way on our continent. That is confirmed by the most recent remarks made by Mark Harper, the country’s minister of transport, as no other European nation has done thus far.
The United Kingdom will go ahead very soon with autonomous cars
“It will be gradual, so there will be companies that will implement it in certain places,” Harper stated in an interview with BBC Radio. “It will probably be noticeable by 2026.”
A few weeks ago, the announcement of a Bill on Autonomous Vehicles for 2024 by King Charles III marked a significant advancement for the United Kingdom. A crucial point emerged among the other details: the makers, not the drivers, will be held accountable in the case of an accident involving an autonomous vehicle under the future legislation that will govern them on the islands. This legislation is expected to be completed by the end of the following year.
During the interview, Mark Harper stated that the bill is “in parliamentary process” and is anticipated to become operative by the end of 2024. Harper highlights the significant significance of this technology by making the following forceful remarks regarding one of the most concerning aspects of autonomous cars: “What I have seen about automated vehicles and autonomous driving technologies is very focused on the safety of people.”
Although no manufacturer has a particular project in this area, the initial steps are anticipated to resemble those made in the US, where businesses like Cruise and Waymo conduct experiments in actual environments. There are, and there will be more, as when testing in open traffic starts in Europe.
It should be mentioned that the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) now recognises six levels for autonomous driving systems: level 0, which requires no help, and level 5, which offers complete autonomy. But starting at level 4, the driver’s form vanishes, and the car may operate entirely independently without assistance from a person.
The most recent developments among the major automakers are still significantly different from the rules, which are becoming more apparent. Mercedes-Benz recently made a significant announcement when it revealed that it has been granted permission to utilise its Level 3 technology in the US states of California and Nevada. For instance, Tesla’s well-known but mislabeled “Autopilot” autonomous driving technology is still only at level 2.
Recent assurances from Susana Gómez, the DGT’s Deputy Director General of Vehicles, indicate that the Royal Decree outlining the technical specifications for circling cars with SAE levels 4 and 5 will be authorised in 2024. Significant and novel actions are being conducted before the actual implementation of autonomous driving technology.